London marketing company fined £100,000 for making 80,000 'aggressive and unwanted' calls

All recipients of the calls were on the UK’s ‘do not call’ register (PA Wire)
All recipients of the calls were on the UK’s ‘do not call’ register (PA Wire)

A London telemarketing company has been fined £100,000 for making more than 80,000 nuisance phone calls over a 13-month period.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined London-based Dr Telemarketing Ltd (DRT) - and Cardiff-based Outsource Strategies Ltd (OSL) £240,000 - after the companies made a combined total of almost 1.43 million calls between February 2021 and March 2022.

All recipients of the calls were on the UK’s ‘do not call’ register, the Telephone Preference Service.

An ICO investigation found evidence that both companies specifically targeted elderly and vulnerable people.

A total of 76 people complained, saying the callers were aggressive and used high-pressure sales tactics to urge them to sign up for products.

Dr Telemarketing Ltd, based in London, made 80,240 unwanted marketing calls during the 13-month period to numbers registered with the TPS.

“The highly exploitative unwanted calls were all made regarding Lotto Express and were targeted at vulnerable people to maximise profit,” said the ICO.

During its investigation, the ICO uncovered what appeared to be a network of five people and eight companies all involved in deliberately making the unwanted calls.

DRT argued opt-in details were supplied by its business partner and screening was provided by another company.

But the ICO found there was no effective screening mechanism in place.

DRT reportedly stopped engaging with the ICO, and did not provide a satisfactory explanation for the Lotto Express calls.

“DRT has also been issued with an enforcement notice,” said the ICO.

“DRT has not paid the fine or appealed the notice therefore the ICO is commencing financial recovery action.”

Meawhile Outsource Strategies Ltd, based in Cardiff, made 1,346,503 unwanted marketing calls in 13 months, to numbers registered with the TPS.

The ICO received 74 complaints from people variously saying they received repeated calls despite requests to stop and that the callers were aggressive.

The ICO said that during its investigation, OSL blamed screening responsibility on its contracted partners and claimed it had internal screening systems in place. But the ICO found this to be incorrect, as nearly 142,000 calls were still made to people marked as ‘do not call’ on its own systems.

The investigation also uncovered that OSL Directors were involved with a separate company previously fined by the ICO.

OSL has also been issued with an enforcement notice, which it has appealed along with the fine.

Multiple complainants told how callers would tried to persuade them to join an Irish lottery scheme.

One said the called “had all my personal details”. “He was trying to persuade me to buy cut-price lottery tickets for the Irish Lottery,” they said.

They said the caller refused to email over any details of the offer or company, until they had bought tickets.

Another victim said: “It made me annoyed and...anxious.”

One elderly person described how the company would repeatedly call them on various different phones, despite them pleading for the calls to stop. They described it as “harassment of two senior citizens”.

The ICO enforces regulations which cover the rules for organisations making direct contact with people for marketing purposes.

Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations, said: “All the people targeted by these nuisance calls should not have been called in the first place. They had all taken action to protect themselves by registering with the UK’s ‘do not call’ register.

“It is unacceptable they were repeatedly interrupted and subjected to aggressive and unpleasant marketing, particularly as some of the victims told us they were people with vulnerabilities.

“It doesn’t matter how complicated the network of companies and individuals are - we will work through the evidence to find and take action against the perpetrators of these unlawful calls to protect the public.”